Archive for the ‘Bike Building’ Category


Thursday, July 16th, 2009

So Jen’s 26″ world-tourer just went out; she’s building it up in Milwaukee and striking out to the west. It was an interesting and novel paint job, so that means – you guessed it – it’s time for another ANATOMY OF A PAINT JOB!

This is the original mockup she sent me:


And here’s how I got started; first I sprayed the entire bike white, and then I started masking off where I would be shooting red, using a combination of Fine-Line tape for the points and circles cut by the vinyl cutter for curves:

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Once the shapes were outlined, I have to cover everything that was going to stay white:

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Then I shot red, did some more masking for the black headtube and stay ends, shot black, and pull off the bandages:

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But I wasn’t done yet. Oh no. Jen had designed an elaborate dot pattern that she wanted on the seat tube, to be in gray, along with the logos. So we put Snips McGinty to work:


And here’s the final product, clearcoated, frame-saved, and ready for components:

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I also just finished painting a disc-brake single speed frame for Jascha. He’ll be using a Civia disc brake fork; this has a 1 1/8″ steerer so we had to use lugs that would allow for the super-oversized headtube.

We also used the Paragon sliding disc dropouts; these allow you to tension the chain without changing the orientation of the caliper to the wheel, and presented some engineering challenges:

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He chose a lovely deep burgundy red, with gunmetal gray and silver accents:

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Next: Parts for Jascha, and Mo’s road bike!


Sunday, April 19th, 2009

We’re still waiting on the belt drive parts for Eric’s Taxi bike, stay tuned!

I finished AJ’s touring frame and just got the Nitto racks he’ll be using; I’m working out a fork low-rider attachment, and he’s working on paint selection! Here are some pix of the frame in progress; note the crown carving & custom hanger for the rear canti brake adjuster.

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I also did some more paint work for Marty at Geekhouse; first another belt drive bike, this time using an S&S coupler to get the belt thru the frame, and then a road bike with a carbon fork:

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Our friend Bob brought in a single speed Sillgey frame on which he wanted a derailleur hanger installed, here are some shots of that:

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And last but not least, the good folks at Harris Cyclery brought us a well-worn Rivendell Quickbeam. It had been in an accident and needed a replacement fork, and they asked us to switch over the low-rider rack mounts from the (bent) orange fork to the new green one, and repaint the new fork and original frame. I had to fashion a makeshift jig to get the mounts parallel to each other, and in the right spot, here are some pictures of that:

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And here’s the finished product, with new decals courtesy of Harris:

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Next: hopefully, finally, belt drive in action; finishing AJ’s; and Viva la Reba!


Saturday, March 21st, 2009

For our friend Eric we’re building the first belt-drive Circle A. When we get all the components sorted out, I’ll be talking about how (& how well) it works, but first there are some oddities that we have to address when building the frame.

The first is that, because unlike a chain you can’t add or remove links and thus easily change the length of the belt, you have to determine a precise length for the chainstays that takes into account cog size, “chain” ring size, and belt length. Eric wants a single speed, so we had to be sure that the he was going to be happy with the gear ratio – there are some other combinations that will work (we used dropouts with extra-long slots), but it’s much more limited than with chain drives. Fortunately Gates, who makes the drive system, provides a spreadsheet that helps you determine the chainstay length.

But the real challenge, and related to the above issue, is that because the belt doesn’t come apart, the frame has to. WHAT?! I know. It looks a little something like this:


Now you can get around this issue with an elevated chainstay, like on all those old Haro and Nishiki mountain bikes from the early 90’s. But Eric wanted a classic looking lugged frame, so I wanted to make the disconnection as svelte as possible. Using our own dropouts, laser cut next door in Pawtucket, I modified an old seat stay end to become a detachable dropout/stay interface:

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Eric and I are working out the Yellow Cab themed paint; I’ll post pictures of that and the components as they arrive.

Speaking of Nishikis, I repainted one for Miguel in Austin. We saved the chrome on the dropouts and painted it a deep pearl blue:

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And finally I just started a touring bike for my friend AJ, I’ll start brazing next week. He’s using Richard Sachs lugs and all True Temper tubing. Note the dimpled chainstays to give him some more tire clearance:

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Next: more belt drive action!


Friday, February 27th, 2009

Hard to believe, perhaps, but yes, it’s our first 29er. Our friend Bridge has a habit of pushing us to try new things – years ago he commissioned our first monostay track bike, and now here he is pushing the large & fat tires on us. Check it out:

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Apparently Bridge rides in muck a lot, so he likes to run his shifter cables in housing, instead of using cable stops. I like these stainless housing guides from Kirk Pacenti, and welded them together so they could look all neat on his top tube:

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Here are some shots of the construction. It’s all True Temper tubing, and required an extra-long 35mm down tube to reach up to the top of the Rock Shox fork Bridge has planned. I didn’t have to use super long chainstays as the Paragon disc dropouts are nice and long and help me stretch out the rear end. Bridge wanted some “just in case” braze-ons as well, including water bottle bosses, rack & fender mounts, and screw-in canti posts.

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And here it is all painted up nice with oak leaves galore:

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I also painted a Nash, from a Baltimore builder, and a Kawasaki-green Geekhouse for our friend Marty; look for that one at NAHBS this weekend!

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Next, and I mean it this time: belt drive!


Friday, January 16th, 2009

For local luminary Ron I’m building a sometime tourer/all around towner; he plans to build it up with only the rear derailleur as an 8 or 9 speed, not unlike Katie’s. He’s rocking the very hot Richard Sachs lugs, and is running cantilever brakes. Here’s some pictures of the frame under construction:

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I also repainted a great old Fat City Buckshaver for our friend Brian:

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And finally I painted a new frame from Dwight at Bowen Bicycle Works in CT:

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Next: finishing ron’s! coming up: belt drive mania!


Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

I painted Nick’s monostay’d, Richard Sachs lugged, Paul dropout-ed, superhot fixie yesterday. This is another one of those bikes where I wasn’t sure how I’d feel with the colors but the customer was totally right and the shit is HOT. I mean khaki and white – it’s like the worlds most delicious cappucino.



Here’s the process for masking the head lugs. First I apply Spray Mask with a brush; after that dries you can trace the line of the lug with an x-acto, peel the mask off the tubes (it’s sort of like rubber cement), and then mask the rest of the bodies of the lugs with tape. Then we paint.

And here are some more pictures of Nick’s in process.

I also made a replacement fork for Jack’s Whitcomb, which we repainted a couple years ago. He tracked down a great new old stock twin-plate crown, and I used the original dropouts off the old fork.

And last but far from least, Stevil Kinevil of Swobo has been tearing it up on his Circle A cross bike. He seems like a nice guy, right, who looks something like this:

But that’s when he’s in costume. Here’s the real guy:


Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

So last week I started on local yokel Nick’s lugged fixie with monostay. He’s using the very cool and ornate Richard Sachs lugs. Here’s some as the front end is getting brazed up:

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And here are some shots of me getting the monostay jigged up. It’s a cast piece that we braze to three sections of seat stay. On the right you can see where I’ve brazed a piece of seat tube onto the top of the monostay so it can’t punch through the seat tube (I’ve seen it happen!):

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Soon it’ll be time for paint. Speaking of which, I had the pleasure of painting one of Mike Flanigan’s fantastic ANT’s. Here it is, reminding us that nothing looks as hot as gloss black, until you get finger prints all over it…

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We also did some work on Mike’s Kona – removed a horribly stuck seat post, updated the braze-ons, and repainted a lovely pearl, with the original decals from the UK:

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And finally, Adrienne’s bike went out the door, kitted out with Sram Rival components and Shimano medium reach brakes:

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Next – finishing Nick’s!




Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Sam’s lugged, S&S coupled touring bike is done. He picked the custom colors, and it’s gorgeous:

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Here are some shots of construction. As on many of our touring bikes, I used Henry James dropouts because they have enough of a slot so you could cut the chain and run it as a single speed if your derailleur blows up in Timbuktu.

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Note the low rider rack mounts on the fork. Sam will be using a Tubus rack, which I used to locate the mounting points:

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So for the paint, Sam wanted these three colors, and a leaf he had drawn for the seat tube:

He sent us an EPS file of the image so we can cut it out of vinyl as a stencil. He also wanted the bands on the edge of the panels and the lettering to be in the same green; this meant painting on the logos, instead of using the decals we have printed. So first I painted orange on the head tube, and green for where the logos, bands and leaf would be; then I cut and weeded the vinyl for the logo stencil and leaf, and applied them over the green. The vinyl for the logos is yellow, for the bands, black. After spraying the orange for the panels, I peel off the vinyl, and there is the green lettering.

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In that last one you can also see the Spray Mask that I’ve applied over the lug lines so I can mask those properly. Then I cover the head tube completely, cover the panels, and spray the final mint green.

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Friday, August 15th, 2008

For Sam I’m making a demountable touring bike with S&S couplers. This one is going to be fully lugged, with front and rear rack mounts for loaded touring. So with the couplers, you need to cut your top tube and down tube and braze them in, so I got special True Temper tubes with long butts so that I’d be brazing to the thick part. Here are some shots of the couplers, and brazing them up to make the tube:

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This frame is also going to use capped seat stays, brazed to the outside of the seat lug, for good tire & fender clearance. Some builders use cast caps, to which we say, bah! They’re heavy and artless. So we take our seat stay and file in a channel; then we braze a section of seat tube scap onto it, and grind it smooth.

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And here are some more pictures of the frame in the jig. You can see the 7 degree sloping top tube and the low bottom bracket for stability.

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I’ve also been working on a tandem rehab for Matt, on an old Schwinn Twinn. I know. That’s how they spelled it. See:

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It’s getting a full repaint, with new fenders, racks and an 8 speed internal hub! I’ll have more pix next week of the fancy components, but here’s the painted frame and new fork:

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Circle A Cycles   |   523 Charles Street   |   Providence, RI   |   401.831.5221
background: rob enjoying his touring circle a. (reveal)

circle a